New Business Births in West Michigan for “Doula” ServicesBy Jane Whitttington on October 19th, 2015 /
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek and means “a woman who serves”. Today’s doula is a well-trained and experienced professional who works with a mother before, during and after birth to provide emotional, physical and practical support. A study in the Journal of Perinatal Education stated that “mothers matched with a doula had better birth outcomes. Doula-assisted mothers were four times less likely to have a low birth weight baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding.”
Another study in that same journal said, “A skilled doula empowers a woman to communicate her needs and perceptions and actualize her dream of a healthy, positive birth experience.”
This research comes as no surprise to Kristin Revere and Karlye McNeely, co-owners of Gold Coast Doulas, a new business in West Michigan that offers doula services to growing families.
For Revere, the birth experience she had with her first child, delivered by a nurse-midwife, solidified her belief that childbirth can be a natural, beautiful and spiritual experience. When she had her second child, she worked with doulas and was so impressed with the care and compassion shown by these women that she began the path of becoming a doula herself. She received training and certification with Sacred Doula and ProDoula. She says, “So far, I have participated as a doula in 17 births, most in a hospital setting. The doula offers support not only during the birth itself but also before and after. Our role is to focus on the mother and give her whatever she needs.”
For McNeely, the journey was slightly different. She received a degree in nursing from Hope College. Sometimes frustrated with the hurried pace of modern medicine, she stepped away from the profession as she started her family. She says, “During my second pregnancy, I discovered HypnoBirthing®. I arranged for the founder, Marie Mongan, to come to Michigan, and I was trained by her as a certified practitioner. I attended by first birth as a doula in 2005 and since then have attended over 75 births. Serving as a doula was what I wanted to do, but going into practice on my own was simply not practical. In talking with Kristin, we realized that by forming a group practice, we could offer more services to more women. The result was Gold Coast Doulas LLC.”
Currently, both Revere and McNeely are serving as doulas, and Gold Coast Doulas has contracted with two others who also provide services.
Revere says, “The first step in the process is meeting with the client and the birth partner. Depending on the mother’s needs, we can meet with her for one to three pre-birth sessions. We talk with the family about what they hope to experience during the birth process. We take this time to educate them on what they can expect and answer any questions they might have. We delineate the role the doula will play as well as the role of the other parent in the family. Throughout the pregnancy, we are available by phone and email to answer questions or address any concerns.”
As the old Greek word suggests, the doula’s role during the birth is to serve the mother. She is there to give support and comfort during the difficult work of giving birth. This can be as simple as giving the mother ice chips or massaging her back. The doula will guide the mother through the labor as well as acting as an advocate for the laboring woman, helping her to achieve the best birth experience she can have. She in no way substitutes for the father, but works with him and can suggest ways he can help and support the new mother.
Postpartum, doulas visit the mother and baby at home, continuing to support the new family both emotionally and practically. Trained to recognize signs of postpartum depression, they can refer the mother to appropriate resources for this or other problems. Gold Coast Doulas have partners who can provide meal delivery for those first few weeks at home.
According to Revere, developing this professional agency to provide doula services just makes sense. She says, “I have a background in business and marketing, so I am concentrating on that side of the partnership while continuing my commitment to work as a doula”
She continues, “We offer our services throughout West Michigan, including here in Grand Rapids as well as surrounding areas.”
Revere says, “It’s a privilege to be part of a woman’s pregnancy, birth and motherhood. I do my best to support a mother with mindfulness and intention and give her a joyful experience.”
For more information about Gold Coast Doulas, visit their website at www.goldcoastdoulas.com.